This DVD, as indicated on the box, is a violin masterclass. The
master here is Maxim Vengerov and the student a young lady by
the name of Márta Déak, accompanied on the piano by Tadashi Imai.
We watch and hear the young violinist play an extract of the first
movement, Allegro, from Mozart’s third violin concerto,
which lasts approximately ten minutes and then we get to witness
Vengerov working with her on the interpretation of this same movement.
While Ms Déak
is playing, the camera is mostly fixed on her though it occasionally
moves to Vengerov, sitting by the piano, with a serious demeanour.
There are other students in the room, though the viewer does
not see most of them as the camera does not move around to
show us the audience. Vengerov listens attentively and intently
to Ms Déak’s playing but until the young violinist concludes
her short performance, it is difficult to read his thoughts.
As Ms Déak finishes,
Vengerov immediately springs up with a smile and, as any good
teacher, he compliments her performance, assuring her he believes
she will become an excellent violinist. Only then, does he
start explaining how he thinks that she can improve, however
never forgetting to point out that interpretations are personal
and she may prefer a different one to his own.
the fact that Mozart had a strong sense of drama, meaning
the stage. His works for solo instruments should according
to the master violinist always be approached as an opera and
the performer should try and express that dramatic feeling
and bring the instrument to sing. To better demonstrate what
he means, Vengerov bursts into song, expressively imitating
an opera singer. He dances and sings in a lively, vivacious
manner, always keeping a sense of fun but taking it seriously
and making the point that what the composer wrote should never
lesson, Vengerov is demanding but considerate and also spontaneous.
He has a good sense of humour and often makes the girl and
the audience smile. From this point of view, this DVD is highly
entertaining. It is a joy to watch Vengerov bounce to the
sound of his own voice, illustrating the way the music should
be interpreted and highlighting where young Ms Déak is still
missing the point. On rare occasions, he grabs his own violin
and exemplifies on the spot what he would like her to do.
young Márta Déak tries hard. She tirelessly repeats time after
time, each note, each chord, the entrance, the theme and so
on, attempting to reproduce on the violin Vengerov’s instructions.
She listens attentively, assimilating every word he says and
generally agrees, seldom having the courage to tell him she
prefers her own interpretation in some particular parts. At
first, Ms Déak is obviously flattered to have a masterclass
with a violinist of Maxim Vengerov’s stature but it is equally
obvious that she is nervous. However, as the lesson progresses,
she appears to be getting slightly frustrated, perhaps even
annoyed at the fact that he is seldom completely satisfied
and happy with her performance. I had the impression that
towards the end of the lesson Ms Déak was actually trying
hard to control some growing irritation but she does manage
to keep her composure. In the end, it appeared to me that
she lets out a gentle sigh of relief though she also seems
genuinely happy when Vengerov pays her a final compliment
on her diligence and determination, then shakes her hand and
declares he enjoyed working with her.
From an educational
point of view, this DVD is a valuable asset and will make
good supporting material to music teachers in general and
violin teachers in particular. It is also a good document
on Vengerov’s own interpretation of arguably Mozart’s greatest
violin concerto. On the other hand, from the perspective of
entertainment, it lets one down a little. Maxim Vengerov is
himself entertaining enough. His explanations, personal interpretation
and the unique vivid manner in which he conveys them to the
students are always watchable, at times even fascinating,
as they give one an insight into his colourful personality.
However, I must say that the continuous repetitions become
slightly boring after a while. Personally, I was also disappointed
that the piece is not performed in full. It does make sense
from an educational perspective to have the student, young
Ms Márta Déak, performing just an extract from the first movement
of Mozart’s third violin concerto and then watch how Vengerov
works with her on this particular movement, however it would
have been very interesting and also educational to follow
the masterclass with a full performance of the piece, preferably
by the master himself.
For me, the greatest
achievement of this DVD is that it fully illustrates the difficulty
of becoming a concert violinist and how much hard work and
effort are involved, demonstrating these are as important
as natural talent. I would strongly recommend it for teachers,
aspiring musicians in general and violinists in particular.
With the full performance of the piece, I believe however
that the DVD would have gained a different dimension and the
Masterclass Media Foundation, even though they are a non-profit
organisation, would surely have earned some extra funds to
support the worthy work they do.